With zoos, museums, beaches, waterparks, trails, and more, West Michigan has something for every child – or child at heart – to enjoy in any season! We’ve rounded up 32 kid-friendly activities to help your travel planning.
1. Embark on a Nature Stroll
Ever wonder why no two snowflakes are the same? Head to Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings for their Snowflake Science Nature on February 4 and find out! Come learn how snowflakes form, what is behind their unique shapes, how to catch a snowflake without it melting, and just some good ol’ snowflake fun through stories, hands-on activities, and short strolls. The program is open to all ages but is geared towards families with preschool through elementary-aged students. Choose between an in-person program or one live-streamed through Zoom.
2. Get Creative with Art Classes
The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts‘ Kirk Newman Art School offers classes and art camps for children as young as 5 years old. Students can begin their art exploration in drawing, photography, ceramics, painting, and more. View the class schedule on their website.
The Oliver Art Center in Frankfort also offers classes and workshops for youth and families year round in a variety of media, including clay and ceramics, painting, collage, drawing, pastel, textile arts, culinary arts, fiber arts, writing fiction and poetry, editing, and wellness arts. Currently, classes are being offered virtually along with other online resources to enjoy from home.
3. Hit a Sledding Hill in Newaygo
When the first snow falls, the hills at Branstrom Park in Fremont and The Welcome Center in Newaygo offer the best destinations for downhill sledding in the region! Load up the kiddos and their sleds and head to Newaygo County for a family friendly winter weekend getaway.
4. Witness the World of Winter Festival
Now through March 6th, Grand Rapids invites you to experience the winter season in all new ways at their World of Winter Festival. Play games, take walking tours and listen to live performers with the whole family at this very fun and instagrammable event. And the best part… it’s all free!
5. Find Family Fun in Lansing
Make Lansing your weekend destination for a great family getaway. Michigan’s capital region is just a quick drive away and full of fun things to see and do. Explore the Michigan History Center or experience Impression 5 Science Center. Keep busy at one of the many kicak recreational centers, or challenge the family to high speed karting at High Caliber Karting. Let this be the family weekend that creates memories to last a lifetime.
6. Head to Captivating Coldwater Country
With an abundance of things to see and do, South central Michigan’s Coldwater Country is your home for family fun. Play laser tag and virtual reality games at Adventure Zone. Add in mini golf and go karts as the weather warms. Or step back in time and aboard an authentic 100+ year old steam engine train at the Little River Railroad. Get outside and enjoy the horseback trails with Hidden Pond Horse Rescue. And, make sure to stay up late and head to the Capri Drive-In to catch a double feature at one of the remaining drive-in theaters in Michigan.
7. Head to Harbor Country
Gathering the family in Harbor Country is easy and makes lifelong memories to share for generations. There are great area hotels offering kid-favorite amenities like pools, water fun, games, and campfires. Plus, Harbor Country restaurants offer kids menus and selections for even the pickiest of eaters. Learn more on the Harbor Country website.
8. Enjoy A Variety of Fun Options in South Haven
Children of all ages can find something fun to do in South Haven! Spending a day at the beach provides ample entertainment for anyone who enjoys the sand and water. Make sandcastles, play on the play equipment (located on both North and South Beach), and go for a swim. New to the South Beach area is a splash pad, perfect for red flag days!
Who wants to go for a boat ride? There are plenty of options for children to hop onboard, including the famed Friends Good Will tall ship at the Michigan Maritime Museum. Sign up for the Pirate Chaser excursion and help the crew of Friends Good Will retrieve their treasure from the pirates!
For the kids who like to ride their bikes, South Haven has two great trails, the Kal-Haven and Van Buren, for biking and hiking.
Indoor fun is also an option! The area museums hold fun classes for children of all ages to enjoy. Kids can play their hearts out at a retro arcade, spend a rainy afternoon at the movies, and cool off a hot summer day with some ice cream at a century-old ice cream shop.
9. Explore Downtown Rockford with a Scavenger Hunt
Explore downtown Rockford and hunt for hidden polar bears in the Polar Bear Scavenger Hunt, a free activity suitable for all ages! Figure out the clues on the clue sheet, and then stroll through downtown trying to locate the bears in different business windows. Turn in your sheet for a chance to win a Winter Family Fun Basket!
10. Stroll Through Your Local Farmer’s Market
Farmers markets are fun for the whole family! Younger kids can learn — and even get a taste — about how honey is made from local beekeepers and teens can try out artisan coffee. Find your market and bring your family for a morning of learning and experimenting, all while supporting local vendors
11. Tour the Skies in A Hot Air Balloon Ride
Altitude Endeavors in Battle Creek invites you to take flight on one of their hot air balloon rides! As the largest and most experienced ballooning company in the Southwest Michigan area, they will ensure that your adventure is professional and unforgettable. The rides are best suited for pre-teens and older, although their youngest passenger was only 2 years old. Altitude Endeavors recommends that children be about 42″ tall and have an interest in the outdoors.
12. Check Out Kalamazoo Area Attractions
The Kalamazoo area has something for kids of all ages! Many of the area’s attractions have exhibits that make education fun at any age, including the Air Zoo, Gilmore Car Museum, Kalamazoo Valley Museum, the nearby Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek, and more.
13. Visit Muskegon Area Museums
Too cold to go outdoors? Spend a family day at the Lakeshore Museum Center. Explore two stories of exhibits, work out some energy in the Body Works exhibit, dive into the Depths of Time exhibit, see a furry life-sized mastodon and learn how the lumberjacks, fur traders and first settlers lived in Coming to the Lakes. See how many plants and animals you recognize in the Habitats Gallery. Plan on a lot of time, because the little ones like to learn and play in the STEM areas! If you want to take a winter walk, grab a Moxie Scavenger Hunt brochure. Use the clues listed to find 20 “Mini” Mastodons hidden throughout Downtown Muskegon.
While in the area, be sure to visit the Muskegon Museum of Art! Kids of all ages will love the unique opportunity to play a 9-hole round of indoor miniARTure golf. Putt-putt through a fully playable miniature golf course inspired by artwork from the MMA’s permanent collection. Designed by MMA staff, this 9-hole course will “take guests through a fun and challenging array of obstacles. Almost 250 feet of custom-designed greens with multi-levels, unique stunts, visual canals, volcanos, towering sculptures, mazes, tornados, snowdrifts, and more!” Clubs and balls will be provided, and the exhibit will be open through May 22, 2022.
14. Experience Muskegon Luge’s Winter Outdoor Activity Offerings
Take advantage of the winter weather and plan a great lakes family getaway to the Muskegon Luge & Sports Complex, located in Muskegon State Park. All age groups will enjoy ice skating on a two-acre outdoor rink and a ¼ mile skating trail. Both skating options are open daily and lit at dusk. More outdoor fun options include cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and of course, luge! Family members who are 48 inches tall and weigh at least 65 lbs. can try one of only four public luges that exist in the United States.
15. Make Memories in Mt. Pleasant
This winter, the Mt. Pleasant area is offering attractions and family fun activities perfect for every age. Explore unique, hands-on exhibits at a local museum, or stop by a play area to experience endless indoor entertainment in the form of large inflatables and a trampoline park.
16. Savor Four Season Fun at Shanty Creek Resort
No matter the season there’s always something happening for kids at Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire. There’s still plenty of time, and snow, to enjoy Michigan’s winter wonderland. Skiing, snowboarding or tubing at the multi-lane alpine tubing park, Shanty Creek is where quality family time happens with the wind in your hair and a smile on everyone’s face.
When the weather warms, return to Shanty Creek Resort where an unforgettable golf getaway awaits. With four distinctly Northern Michigan golf courses featuring tight fairways, formidable doglegs and elevation changes will challenge any golfer. Need a lesson? No problem. Shanty Creek has developed and implemented a variety of programs aimed at attracting youth, beginners, and families to play golf.
While in Bellaire, take the kids for a hike at Grass River Natural Area, where they will learn about native plant and animal species.
17. Enjoy Pure Ludington Entertainment
Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers Association’s lighthouse education committee has assembled a variety of educational resources. Pick the topic that interests your kids, and start learning about local lighthouses!
Mason County Historical Society, who manages Historic White Pine Village and the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum, has launched a virtual education page providing a bevy of online resources and interactive experiences, including “Historical Photo Detective,” “Mason Memories Essay,” “Virtual History Hunts,” “Outdoor Scavenger Hunts,” and “Journaling Ideas.”
Jump, bounce, and play outside this summer at Jump Around Fun Center! Obstacles, bouncers, slides – you name it, you’ll find it in this one-of-a kind experience.
18. Have a Ball in Wonderful Walloon Lake
Keep the kids (or yourself!) entertained with the Hotel Walloon Activity Kit during your stay. This adventurous package includes a Hotel Walloon jigsaw puzzle, playing cards, and a special scavenger hunt in the Walloon Lake Village.
19. Celebrate Family Time in Charlevoix
Are you planning on traveling with your children? Charlevoix’s Visitors Bureau has created a complete list of family-friendly locations to visit during your stay. Each of the locations offers different activities, hands-on opportunities, and classes, so be sure to check out all the great options!
20. Petoskey Area Pleasures
Kids of all ages will find something cool to do in the Petoskey Area. Wintertime means good times on local sledding hills, downhill skiing on amazing slopes, ice skating in open-air rinks, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing on wooded trails, and super fun flights on zipline adventures. Indoors, kids will have a blast bowling and playing laser tag, or splashing the day away at Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark.
Nearby Raven Hill Discovery Center in East Jordan is tons of fun with hands-on experiences in art and science. And don’t miss Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark at Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls, with 88,000 square feet of splashing and playing for kids of all ages.
21. Tour Mecosta County With Their Family Fun Brochure
There are plenty of activities in Mecosta County for the kids of West Michigan to enjoy!
Enjoy ice skating at the Hemlock Park Ice Rink in Big Rapids or take part in a free after-school art program this school year. The Big Rapids Community Library also has a plethora of kids’ events happening weekly, from storytimes for little kids to book clubs, take and make kits, and more, there is sure to be something for everyone. For a list of all the wonderful places to enjoy with your kids, check out the “Family Fun” brochure as well as other brochures such as “The Robert Barnum Art Tour” and the Ferris State University “Bulldawg Tour’,’ all of which can be found on the Mecosta County Visitors Bureau website.
22. Ski, Sip, & Chill Your Way to Outdoor Fun
Join the Drummond Island Resort and Conference Center for an outdoor event that’s fun for both kids and adults – Ski, Sip, & Chill! Hit the (groomed) trail and enjoy five unique stops, each with different tastes to enjoy. Families are welcome, with reduced rates for underage skiers/snowshoers. The event will take place on three Saturdays in February, from 11am -1 pm, weather permitting. To reserve your spot, call (906) 493-1000.
Pro tip: book your adventure with lodging (at 10% off!) so you’ll have time for the kids to enjoy tubing, sledding, ice skating, and indoor putt-putt too!
23. Encounter Animals
Located on 80 acres of land in Alto, Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park is a unique, hands-on experience for the entire family. The park boasts a distinct collection of exotic animals and reptiles, and the variety and dynamic atmosphere make Boulder Ridge anything but your average zoo.
Meet more than 100 unique animals in one of the largest petting zoos in the area, take a ride on the barrel train, race rubber ducks, and so much more farm fun at Lewis Adventure Farm & Petting Zoo in New Era. From barnyard favorites like ponies and goats to exotics like camels, kangaroos, and lemurs, and sunflower festivals to apple picking, Lewis Adventure Farm has something for everyone!
Visit a family-run dairy farm and get an up-close look at the cows, the milking process, and more at Country Dairy….and don’t forget the ice cream!
See our full list of Animal Encounter opportunities in West Michigan here.
24. Discover Indoor Adventures in Allegan
Experience the largest indoor ropes course in Michigan at Allegan Event! Explore the heart-pumping bi-level Sky Trail® ropes course with Sky Rail™ zip rails sitting at heights up to 35 feet. Pair the course with other activities such as the QUICKjump free-fall simulation, Vertical Drop Slide, Clip ‘n Climb® walls, and outdoor zip line spanning the Kalamazoo River! Little kids under 48” are able to explore the Sky Tykes® course at a more comfortable height designed specifically for their needs.
25. Find Family-Friendly Farm Fun (and Ice Cream!)
A family fun destination with great, fresh dairy products: visit MOO-ville Creamery in Nashville for old fashioned down-on-the-farm fun and flavor!
26. Ride the Waves and Learn to Wakeboard
Action Wake Park in Hudsonville is Michigan’s first, and only, full-size cable park. No longer is wakeboarding limited to those who have access to a boat. Their facilities give guests the opportunity to learn how to wakeboard in a controlled environment without the need for a boat, bringing the joy of wakeboarding to a whole new audience, whether you’re a first time rider or an experienced pro.
27. Be the Center of the Action with Fun Competitions
Get ready for a laser tag experience unlike any other in West Michigan! BattleGR Tactical Games offers laser tag, archery tag, and so much more. They are constantly hosting fun events and different deals, so be sure to check out their website for all the details.
28. Embark on a Dune Ride
Silver Lake Buggy Rentals is your headquarters for family-friendly off-road rentals at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes!
Experience the Silver Lake Sand Dunes on a one-of-a-kind 40 minute dune tour with Mac Woods Dune Rides.
29. Take Advantage of Traverse City Attractions
Kids of all ages will find something to love in northern Michigan, whether they are visiting a children’s museum or taking a ranger-led hike at Sleeping Bear Dunes. Right now, the outdoors are the best place to be. Bike along the TART Trail to explore Traverse City and see a cool planetary display that runs along the trail. There’s also plenty of fun to be had at local arcades and bowling alleys during “normal” times. Many hotel properties–including Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Acme, Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, and others–offer tons of kid-friendly activities throughout the year.
From snowboarding and tubing in winter, to zip lining and hiking all summer, Mt. Holiday is a year round playground!
30. Learn About the Great Lakes – On the Lake!
Kids growing up in the Great Lakes state should learn about the Great Lakes! Inland Seas Education Association in Suttons Bay offers two- and three-hour programs for families to learn about life under the surface of the water. Participants will explore the Great Lakes food web by taking and analyzing samples with real equipment that scientists use. Examine creatures living in the benthos (lake bottom), view microscopic plankton through the microscope, identify fish, test the water, and find out how microplastics are impacting the Great Lakes food web. In addition, you can help raise the sails of the 77′ schooner and steer the ship. Book now for your summer adventure!
31. Travel Back in Time to Discover Mackinac Island History
Give your kids a history lesson they don’t know they’re taking with the Mackinac State Historic Parks both in Mackinaw City and on Mackinac Island. From cannon firings to dressing in soldiers’ clothing to a walk through history, kids will learn as much here as they would in a classroom.
32. Explore the Great Outdoors Up North
With Marquette’s diverse landscape, children can safely participate in a slew of outdoor winter activities like skiing, fat-tire biking, and snowshoeing. Also, Marquette is home to a children’s museum, a pottery and art studio, and lots of great parks.
Escape screen-time and put a paddle in your kids hands! Truly disconnect from the hubbub and mayhem and let Keweenaw Adventure Company be your host — they have something for everyone, no matter the age level or experience. You’ll find Lake Superior sea kayaking for all levels of experience, and inland lake stand-up-paddle boarding and kayaking for all age-levels. They have an excellent safety record and 5-star adventures guaranteed to make you all smile and keep you coming back for more. Book your adventure today!
Find more fun with these kids activities, museums, zoos & nature centers, and water parks.